Is downtown Borders a goner?

February 23, 2009
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Downtown BordersThe bookstore chain Borders Group Inc. is looking for a replacement tenant for its 22,000-square-foot store at the corner of Meridian and Washington streets downtown. The Ann Arbor, Mich.-based chain is marketing the property to potential replacement tenants but has made no final decision on whether to close, a spokeswoman said. The bookstore chain occupies two floors of the 17-story Barnes & Thornburg Building at 11 S. Meridian St. across from Circle Centre mall. Broker Bryan Chandler of Eclipse Real Estate is marketing the property. The opening of the Borders in 2001 was an encouraging sign that the mall was helping to drive new street-level retail downtown. Losing the store could be a devastating blow, adding a second major vacancy to one of dowtown's marquee corners. Flagstar Bank left the northwest corner last year for space a few blocks away. And mall anchor Carson Pirie Scott at the southwest corner also could be at risk: Its parent Bon-Ton Stores Inc. has been struggling with more than $1-billion in debt and is often mentioned as a candidate for bankruptcy. Borders has had its own financial troubles and today is trading at about 52 cents per share.
  • I noticed a couple of weeks ago they cut hours and when I asked why I was told it was either that or close. The store needs to be refreshed especially the music listening stations and the bathrooms. That would be too bad if they did close.
  • I hope they can stay....we need a downtown bookstore, and they've been a generous community supporter!
  • I really enjoy shopping in that Borders and I buy books there from time to time. But if they didn't charge such outrageous prices for other forms of media, I'd spend a lot more money there. Who in their right mind ever buys a movie or a CD from them? When you can get better prices for music from an independent like Luna -- where I know and accept that I'm paying a little bit extra for the atmosphere, knowledgeable employees and independent cred -- you know they're charging too much.

    Still, I'd hate to see them go.
  • When I worked across the street, I would skip over and shop or grab lunch (yes, they have food) or coffee all the time. It would crush me to see them go. Maybe the landlord could cut them some slack, and if not, maybe the Mayor's Office could make a phone call.
  • Oddly enough, Borders has some good deals of cook books. Other than that, they are pretty pricey. However -- it is nice having bookstores around even if they are not local. I like to browse a place like Borders or Barnes and Noble then buy on Amazon. It reduces the price a bit and maybe I am personally the reason they are going out of business/vacating their location.

    If they leave it will be sad for downtown but regardless you should check out my mother's bookstore -- Bookmamas at 9 S. Johnson Avenue in Irvington.
  • Yes, good point MDB, Borders needs a bailout. Get on it Mayor Ballard.
  • Oh my word! This is soooooooo sad! I LOVE that Borders! It's so wonderful to grab coffee and a yummy pastry and browse their books and magazines! I love its atmosphere and location. It's an important part of downtown to me. I hope it can be saved somehow! In regard to what others have said about prices... If you're a Borders Rewards member (which is free) then you can get discounts almost every single day. All you have to do is mention that you saw the email they sent you with the discount coupon, and they'll automatically give you the discount no questions asked. Let's all patronize Borders as much as possible!
  • It will be sad if they go. Such a great store and neat place to spend lunch. There was another bookstore downtown on Maryland and they closed about a year ago. You would think they could work something out.
  • Mayor Ballard do something pro-active? GMAFB. He can hardly manage his own office, much less something as complicated as a Retention Project. Broders is cool, they should be encouraged to stay.

    Carson Pirie Scott, OTOH, is blech. Not much there to get you can't get other places. Selection sucks, prices are not very good (check out the clearance racks - barf), but the help is fairly kind.


    Thread derail:

    Notice that the Video Rental place @ 52/college closed? Talked to a friend of mine and she had a wonderful idea: Put in a Ci Ci's Pizza~! Me likey. That place would be crammed full of kids every night and all weekend long.

    Buckwildz is gone too. Bye bye hicks! :lol: couldn't see that one comin, huh?
  • This would be a big blow for downtown. The big Borders is one of the things that make you feel like you're in a big city when you're downtown.
  • I am afraid that I have shifted nearly all my book and CD purchases to the internet, in general and, in particular. I tried very hard to support local bookstores, both independent and chain, but got tired of the inflated prices and, in the case of one store in Broad Ripple, I grew tired of them not responding to email or phone when I tried to register to come to the David Sadaris reading. It's very, very hard to beat Amazon's selection, delivery and shipping options. I'm afraid the paradigm has shifted for me.
  • Tessa said it the best and simplest way!!! That bookstore does indeed make you feel like you're in a big city. It gives me the feeling of a little bit of New York and Chicago... downtown, in the middle of high rises, and so on... I really hope that store doesn't go, because it will definitely become a major blow to downtown... I do agree with a few others on here mentioning that the selections are pricey and the media department... should be downsized... We're in the age of the Internet buying, where we can find almost everything much much cheaper through a retailer. As for the Carsons store... wow. If that store evaporated, man, let me tell ya... Circle Centre will eventually become a dead mall if a replacement isn't found as soon as possible. Sure, if the economy wasn't as bad as it is now... I think Bloomingdales would be a great addition to that part of the mall. Sad to see these things happening, because I really do love downtown Indy.
  • Indianapolis needs a downtown bookstore, so I'll be sad to see the store go for that reason, and because I like shopping there. As for prices -- unlike with some other merchandise, publishers and manufacturers of books and music set the retail prices (look on the back, or inside cover, of any book and there the price is), so Borders and other similar retailers don't always have a great deal of choice in the retail price, especially with books. That's where sales and rewards programs come into play as far as discounting goes.

    I think Amazon and other online retailers are more flexible with pricing in order to get your business. Also, compared to a chain like Borders and Barnes & Noble, Amazon doesn't have rent and utilities to pay for hundreds of stores, as many employees to pay salaries to and health insurance for, etc. That's the thing with buying online when you have the option of getting the same thing locally -- you're not supporting the local economy -- employees, rent, utilities, property taxes, the effect of vacant retail spaces on the neighborhood, etc. And most stores should be able to order what they don't have in stock for you! I've ordered through Borders many times and it gets to me within 2-4 days most of the time, and no shipping costs.
  • This will be indeed devestating if it closes down. That Borders is perhaps the single most viable and attractive street level retail that downtown. It fits in and complements the surrounding area so well! Hopefully, they can get a Barnes and Noble or even Crate and Barrell to replace them. A boy can dream can't he?
  • Oh man, a Crate & Barrel would be absolutely glorious! Too bad we'll see the Pacers win the NBA title before that ever happens:=(
  • NO!!! Yes... prices, but you can't replace that kind of convenience, especially for those of us who don't live near the strip malls and shopping malls. There are better book stores for sure, but not on the circle.

    Boo for the bad economy.
  • It won't break my heart to see chain bookstores go away - it's almost fork time for Borders as a company. Borders prices are ridiculous and their selection in a lot of sections has gone to almost zero. The coming economic tsunami will cleanse us of a lot of the vapid corporate retail culture, and that's a good thing. I find it amusing that some hope for another chain to come in and take over this site - Indianapolis really does love chains, don't they.
  • Greg, you're a moron. What independent book store could take a space so large? Cleansing vapid retail culture as you call it, will leave a lot of people out of work, and a lot of empty spaces. I've always loved that Borders and I shop there on a regular basis. While it's true their cds and dvds are more pricey, you can still find deals. I'm also a Borders reward member and it does save money. And as someone pointed out above, you're helping the local economy by buying here rather than online. I'm not saying you shouldn't buy online, because I do it too, but sometimes there are other considerations.

    Regarding Carsons: Personally, I like it - they have good sales. I bought most of my Christmas in there this year. The employees are nice. I would hate to see them lose their jobs.
  • A Chain store or an Empty store? I guess there would be people complaining about both.

    Just can't win.......
  • Personally, I was thrilled when this store opened earlier this decade. It's a really cool space that retained nearly all of it's original charm from the Merchants National Bank days. Now that I'm working downtown again, I shop there at least twice monthly. Would hate to see it go. Perhaps Barnes & Thornberg could lower the rent!
  • How about a Crate & Barrel at this site?? I would be more concerned with losing Carson's than the bookstore.
  • The real story out there isn't which shop is going to close next, it's when is Marion County is going to declare bankruptcy. Think about it. There is currently $12MM of taxes owed to the county on properties up for auction that no one is interested in bidding on. It takes about 3 years for a property to go from being delinquent to going up for auction. That tells us that the properties currently on the auction list went delinquent back in 2004 and 2005, when times were good and credit was easy. Currently, the county has only collected half of the 2007 payable 2008 property taxes. IF they get their act together, and can actually get the second half of the '07 due '08 taxes billed, AND they can get the '08 payable '09 taxes billed on time, how many property owners will have the cash available in the current economy to make three tax installments in a 9 month period? Sure, the folks who escrow through their mortgage might have enough available, but what about the rest? Meanwhile, all the bonds that had to be floated to keep the lights on will be maturing, or at least have interest payments coming due. Am I missing something, or is this train wreck picking up speed?
  • Some day, I wanna visit me one of these big cities where everything is independently owned and none of these evil chains exist.

    Only question is, where are they? Only one I can think of is Mumbai.
  • I doubt if they will replace this borders with a Barnes & Noble especially since they just put one on IUPUI's campus but maybe they could shift the merchandise to the cafe side since they will be reducing the music departments at all the stores anyway.
    Whole Foods keeps saying that they are looking for a downtown location so maybe they ought to give this building a look.
  • Not the books! :0

    People will go buy their clothes and purses but who cares about them books!
    All them is is parts uh paper with some big fancy words on em'!
    (My poor attempt at a hick).
    Not borders.
  • I agree with Crystal: Whole Foods ( or another decent grocery ) should give this space a look. Much better use of space than a bookstore.
  • Mumbai has quite the amount of chains. I'd recommend you head to Hanoi. Though they have KFCs...
  • Firewoman: Ever heard of Powell's Book Store in Portland, OR? Yes, Virginia, there are such things as large independent book stores.

    Bradshaw: Ever hear of a little burg names Austin, TX? Oh yeah, it's growing so fast that it's about to surpass Indy. About a quarter of the chairs there compared to here.

    You folks need to stop speaking in absolutes if you haven't been around the country that much.
  • It would be awful for me if Border's left downtown. Since I live in Irvington it would mean driving to one of the Malls to get to a big bookstore. Amazon is great but I like to browse and don't always want to wait the day or whatever before I get my book. My mother owns Bookmamma's in Irvington and she sells many books on Amazon and abebooks so I can't get to upset with people shopping on Amazon. However from what I have read Border's is having trouble nationally. Our downtown store is such an interesting use of the space I hope something will be worked out. I think that the Star's article on this issue was much more upbeat about Borders staying.
  • How many of you bemoaning the potential loss of Borders are actually spending money there? I make it a point to spend money there (yes, even on the expensive media) to keep this very thing from happening. I'm all about saving money but I'm also all about a busy, thriving city center, so its worth the small sacrifice to me.
  • Totally agree with Kevin F.
    Also do all the shopping I can at Carson Pirie Scott.
    If you live downtown, I hope you're shopping downtown and supporting your neighborhood!
  • Its so sad, I have many friends that live in downtown, but they never shop at Circle Centre. They always go to Castleton or the Fashion Mall. Makes no sense.
  • Jon, you are right. It doesn't make any sense why people in downtown go shopping at metro malls. However, maybe they do this because Circle Centre is filled with a bunch of kids? Gangbanger wannabes parading the halls not buying a thing? Sad to admit, but I remember when I lived downtown, I wanted to just get out of downtown, because selections were pretty much slim. Circle Centre went from upscale during its early years and went downscale in terms of retailers. So it has more or less became another suburban type mall which is ridiculous because when I go to a big city and visit its downtown, I would expect to find higher end stores and more selections.
  • I love circle center mall. It's a great place to take my son so he can roam around inside and burn some energy when it's cold outside. I don't exactly shop a whole lot (no $$ to spend really), but the interior and vibe is really fantastic I think.

    The window shopping and people watching is as enjoyable as anywhere else.
  • I will be sad to see Borders go. I always wondered who shopped there after 5 p.m., though.
  • I always wondered who shopped there before 5 pm!
  • One could attribute this to the broader economic malaise; however, as others have indicated, Borders is seriously hurting. After at least six consecutive quarters of losses, the chain closed its downtown Minneapolis location last month and has also closed four locations within Chicago.
  • Joyce, have you ever been downtown after 5 p.m.? Perhaps you should visit sometime.

    Would be sad to see this Borders go away, I make almost all of my book purchases there - with Borders Rewards, I always save it's more convenient for me to walk away with my book in hand than save a couple dollars and wait for Amazon to ship it. However, if it is going away - my only wish would be for another downtown grocery/market.
  • Uh oh, doesn't look like Indy has much hope -- Borders set to close their famed Michigan Ave. store in Chicago.

    I really enjoyed this Borders. I don't think our humble downtown Borders can compare with the massive Chicago Borders, but then I realized, maybe the issue isn't that our downtown Borders is too big, maybe it's... too small?

    I have a gut feeling that if there was a HUGE Borders (equivalent to the one in Chi) in downtown Indy, it would thrive.
  • I always frequent the downtown shops, eventhough I live on the NEside. I used to live DT and have been with Circle Centre since day one.
  • As someone who absolutely *loves* this store and has spent a lot supporting them, all I want to say is that we can keep the store from closing. I have heard that it isn't written in stone that it's closing. It's not too late to support the store as others have said. It should be a cultural centerpiece. Why not start hanging out there more, holding small, informal meetings there? Even cafe business would help its bottom line. Why not start a book club and meet there? Does your business need books? Buy them through them. Perhaps the littlest things when taken as a whole would turn things around. If they tell me it's not too late, then I believe we can make a difference!!
  • RenMan,
    Just remember, the hanging out part doesn't help unless people are buying stuff from the cafe. Sales are what will keep the store open, not just a love for it or because it's a good place to hang out.
  • Understood and agreed, I.B.! It is the sales that will keep it open.
  • It would be a great idea for Crate & Barrel to open up a CB2 store downtown in the Borders space. The CB2 merchandise would be ideal for the downtown dwellers.

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